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The Cycle Guide – Cruisers & Randonneurs

 

The Cruiser Cycle combines balloon tires, an upright seating structure with a high stem and a traditional moustache handlebar – facing either way for desired effect. First built between the 1930s and 1950s by the American bicycle company, Schwinn, the Cruiser has received a renewed popularity across the globe from commuting communities in New York City to the European cities of London, Amsterdam and the Scandinavian city of Copenhagen – all of which have dedicated bike lanes with a majority of bicycles using their networks, being Cruisers. In their 1950s heyday, they were perfectly situated and branded for post-war success. They were heavy and durable, encompassed single-speed mechanics and wide tires for a variety of terrain popular with newspaper boys and bicycle couriers.

The Cruiser

Today, they encompass the wizardry of the modern bike mechanic retaining all those qualities, in a light-weight, sleek and shiny style that retains its original design. These days, the old Cruiser is widely known as the “Beach Cruiser”, “The Dutch Bike” and “The Commuter” and nearly all major bicycle brands have at least one Cruiser in their line if not an entire fleet or at least offer frames that can double into a Cruiser style bicycle. Cruisers are essentially low-tech, fashionable vehicles for the discerning rider who wants to blend that touch of old school, retro cycle charm into a more modernist hybrid, yet remaining true to The Cruiser’s last century root – definitely a trendy choice for commuters the world over.

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The Randonneur Cycle has its history laid within the long distance cycle sport which began in Italy in 1897, where Randonneurs attempted a course of 200km – requiring passing through pre-determined checkpoints and aiming to complete the distance within a specific time limit. All riders who completed the Randonneuring event, officially called a Brevet, would receive the same recognition irrespective of the running order in which they crossed the finish line. One of the key elements of the Randonneur (bicycle) is its requirement to be self sufficient i.e. an assembly of multiple bottle cages strapped to their tubes, a back and front rack with panniers which would hold a tent, canned food, clothes, cooking equipment and other essential overnight camping gear.

The Randonneur

Today, while the same gear is required for the modern day Randonneur experience, hip bike enthusiasts are sourcing old steel frames and building their cycles to somewhat resemble a Randonneur bicycle which is a cross between a modern road-bike and cyclo-cross. In cycle terms, a modern day build would feature a vintage steel frame, drop bars with a slightly raised stem for a more relaxed riding geometry, medium width tyres with fenders, a 3-speed & levered gearing system and the capacity to carry panniers. Multiple bottle cages are optional but you should have at least two to complete the look.

 

And if you think you’re up for it, Brevets you can join today are the; Paris – Brest – Paris, London – Edinburgh – London & Boston – Montreal – Boston. Anyone can join these competitions and if you cross the 200KM within the time specified, you will forever carry the title of “Randonneur”.

 

Well, now you can offer up the explanation to anyone who looks remotely lost in conversations about Cruisers and Randonneurs. If we’ve managed to pique your curiosity towards discovering more about them, awesome! Bicycle fits are individualistic, so feel free to explore which type suits you, and remember, you’re not limited to just one type.

 

 

About

Love+Peace+Equilibrium. Return to Source. Mid (last) century and Case Study House Aficionado. Elizabeth Taylor, Diana Vreeland, Queen Elizabeth fan and collector of Vintage Bicycles + old steel bicycle frames. Runs RMVI (Retro Modern Vintage Interiors) on Facebook. Has a proper day job but loves to write about Design + Architecture and Vintage Cycles.

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